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SERMON ON PAINTING.
paint the luxurious * prodigal, given up to riot and debauchery ; hear him draw the consequential ills, the miseries, the want, that tread hard upon his profusion and excess. See that prodigal, half naked, half in rags, uncouth and foul, kneeling among swine, and cursing the vices that drew on him such extremity of distress.-With him let us arise and say, I will go to my father, and suy unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy son! That father will hear, will not turn from the cry of the penitent: he is not like those idols that have ears and hear not-Will the Romish saints do thus ? Can their hallowed Madonnas thus incline to their supplications? Can those gaudy missionaries, whose consecrated portraits elbow the altars of the living God, can they cast their unseeing eyes on their prostrate votaries? Can their speechless mouths say, I will, he thou clean? Alas! those saints which those worshipped pictures represent, may themselves want the very pardon which their deluded adorers so idolatrously demand of them. Thus, be it, as we affirm, that they worship them and theit images; or, as they pretend, that they only pray to them to pray to God, how lamentable is their option ! Either to adore idols instead of the Divinity, or to beg their intercession, who themselves want all the intercession of the Son of God.
See the.picture on this story, by Salvator Rosa, in the gallery.
SERMON ON PAINTING.
“One really knows not how to account for the
prevalence of this sin. Men fly from God into all the various crimes which human nature is capable of committing ; and when apprehensions of futurity, or decay of appetite, overtake them, instead of throwing themselves into the arms of eternal mercy or infinite goodness, they barter for pardon with impotent images, or perished mortals, who died with the repute of a few less sins than the rest of mankind! But could these suppositious deities attend to their prayers-why should canvass or stone, why men who, when living, were subject to all the obduracy, ill-nature, and passions of humanity, why be supposed more capable of pity, more sensible of our sorrows, than the Fountain of tenderness and compassion, who sacrificed his bestbeloved for the sake of mankind? Or why prefer the purchase of pardon from interested mercenary saints, to the free forgiveness of him who delighteth not in burnt-offerings; who hatha no pleasure in the death of a sinner, but rather that he should turn from his wickedness and live?
“ Yet still this prodigality of devotion is the favourite, the fashionable religion! This builds those hospitals for droning monks; this raises those sumptuous temples, and decks their gorgeous altars. Misers, who count farthings with such labour and exactness, with such careful minuteness, who would
* See the picture of The Usurers, by Quintin Matsys, in the gallery.
SERMON ON PAINTING.
deny a mite to the fatherless and widow, here squander their precious treasures and darling exactions. View but the tabernacle of a saint in vogue! How offerings pour in! What riches are showered upon their altars ! Not happy * Job, when relieved from his misfortunes, and replaced on the seat of felicity, saw such treasures, such oblations heaped on him by the bounty and munificence of his returning friends.
“ How great is one's surprise, on coming to inquire into the merits that are the foundation of this universal esteem ! Perhaps a churlish recluseness; a bold opposition of lawful magistrates; a dogmatical defence of church-prerogatives ; a self-tormenting spirit; or, worse, a spirit that has tormented others, under colour of eradicating heresies or propagating the faith, is the only certificate they can shew for their titles to beatitude. No love of society, no public spirit, no heroic actions, are in the catalogue of their virtues. A morose Carthusian, or bloody Dominican, is invested with robes of glory, by authority of councils and consistories; while a t Curtius or a Cocles is left to the chance of fame which a private pencil can bestow on him.
“ But it is not necessary to dive into profane history for examples of unregarded merit: the SCRIPTURES
* See the picture on this subject, by Guido, in the gallery.
+ See the two pictures on their stories, by Mola, in the gallery.
SERMON ON PAINTING.
themselves contain instances of the greatest patriots, who lie neglected, while new-fashioned bigots or noisy incendiaries are the reigning objects of public veneration. *
See the great Moses himself! the lawgiver, the defender, the preserver of Israel! Peevish orators are more run after, and artful Jesuits more popular. Examine but the life of that slighted patriot: how boldly in his youth he undertook the cause of liberty! Unknown, without interest, he stood against the face of Pharaoh! He saved his countrymen from the hand of tyranny, and from the dominion of an idolatrous king : how patiently did he bear, for a series of years, the clamours and cabals of a factious people, wandering after strange lusts, and exasperated by ambitious ringleaders !. How oft did he intercede for their pardon, when injured himself! How tenderly deny them specious favours, which he knew must turn to their own destruction! See him lead them through opposition, through plots, through enemies, to the enjoyment of peace, and to the possession of a land flowing with milk and honey! Or with more surprise see him in the f barren desert, where sands and wilds overspread the dreary scene, where no hopes of moisture, no prospect of undiscovered springs
* The allusion to Lord Orford's Life is carried on through this whole character.
† Alludes to the waters made at Houghton, and to the picture of Moses striking the rock, by Poussin, in the gallery.
THE PAINTER'S EULOGY.
could flatter their parching thirst; see how with a miraculous hand
“He struck the rock, and straight the waters flow'd.'*
“ Whoever denies his praise to such evidence of merit, or with jealous look can scowl on such benefits, is like the senseless idol, that has a mouth that speaks not, and eyes that cannot see.”
After this ingenious eulogy on Painting, in prose, by Lord Orford, take the following laudatory delineation of the PAINTER, by an artist of no mean reputation in the kindred arts of Painting and Poetry
The Painter's eye to sovereign beauty true,
* A line of Cowley.